John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Timeline: 1968

White Light / White

White Light

In january The Velvet Underground release their second album White Light / White Heat, which includes the classic 17 minutes musical mayhem of Sister Ray. Cale is at the organ, coming up on top at the end of the song, playing louder than the rest of the band:

"I kept everything low until a certain point then unleashed the volume I'd been saving."

Cale debuts as a singer on record, reciting The Gift and Lady Godiva's Operation. This is the last original album with John Cale.

Betsey Johnson and John Cale on their wedding day © Billy Name

Marries Betsey Johnson

Marries Betsey Johnson, a fashion designer, in april. The wedding had been previously postponed because Cale came down with hepatitis and had to spend several weeks in the hospital.

The couple got an offer from the Ladies Home Journal to pay for the wedding. The bride got turned away from City Hall in New York, because she was wearing pants. She returned for the wedding in a micro-mini. Betsey Johnson:

"I must have established some kind of something for myself at Paraphernalia, the press was really great. Ladies Home Journal found out we were getting married and was going to pay for this huge bash. They just wanted to be there and photograph the freaky little rock'n'roll scene wedding ceremony and party even through we did it at City Hall. It was all set up and we had all the wedding invitations printed and they were all set ot go to the mailbox and the day that they were supposed to go in the mail John was turning bright yellow! He went to the hospital and I said, 'Well, dear, when shall I mail these out? I'll wait for you to get your blood test.' He didn't even leave the hospital. He went straight into quarantine with hepatitis and a non-existent liver... Ladies Home Journal was so outraged that they wanted me to go on with the whole wedding, go to City Hall, no John and they they said, 'Well later we'll take a picture of John and strip him in!"
Steve Sesnick

Enter Steve Sesnick

Steve Sesnick starts managing the Velvets. He starts pushing Lou Reed, which pisses off Cale:

"Lou was starting to act funny. He brought in this guy Sesnick - who I thought to be a real snake - to be our manager, and all this intrigue started to take place. Lou was calling us 'his band' while Sesnick was trying to get him to go solo. maybe it was the drugs he was doing at the time. They certainly didn't help."
Andy Warhol

Warhol shot

Valerie Solanis shoots Andy Warhol in the Factory, June 4. She had accused of Warhol of stealing her play. Warhol never fully recovers from his wounds.

The shooting is the subject of the song I Believe on Songs for Drella album.

Cale also contributed the I Shot Andy Warhol Suite to the soundtrack of the 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol.

Morning Glory

Engineers the Two Suns' Worth album of Morning Glory.

Larry and Tommy

Produces Yo-Yo, the A-side of a 45 rpm single.

Poster announcing the Boston Teaparty gigs

Last gigs with the Velvets in Boston

On September 27 and 28 Cale plays his last gigs with The Velvet Underground at the Boston Teaparty.

Reed had made an ultimatum to Tucker and Morrison. Either exit Cale, or the Velvets would cease to exist as a band. Maureen Tucker, looking back:

"When John left, it was really sad. I felt really bad. And of course, this was gonna really influence the music, 'cause, John's a lunatic (laughs). I think we became a little more normal, which was fine, it was good music, good songs, it was never the same though.It was good stuff, a lot of good songs, but, just, the lunacy factor was... gone."


© 1999- Hans Werksman